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What is a Foley Catheter?

Foley catheters, also referred to simply as indwelling catheters, are meant for those who require continuous catheterization. The catheter is inserted into the urinary bladder and left there for a long time. Foley Urinary catheters are used in almost all cases wherever indwelling catheters are required. Most of them have a double-lumen design and are known as two-way Foley catheters. There are some called three-way Foley catheters because they have a third rubber tubing used for continuous flushing of the bladder. At HPFY, we have different types of indwelling Foley catheters from experienced brands like Lubricath, Rusch, Kendall, Bardex, etc. which are cost effective and reliable.

Foley Catheter Male
Foley Catheter Female

How do Indwelling Catheters work?

An indwelling Foley catheter is inserted into the bladder and held in place through a balloon which is placed in the bladder and then inflated by injecting sterile water into it. One end of the indwelling catheter which is inserted into the bladder has the balloon at its tip while the other end has two or three channels/lumens. One connects to a urinary drainage bag while the other has a valve attached. Through this sterile water is injected to inflate the balloon. The balloon remains inside the bladder and prevents the catheter from slipping out of the body.
When the catheter has to be withdrawn, the water is pulled out of the balloon with the help of a syringe and the tubing removed easily. Basically there are two different types of Foley catheters – urethral and suprapubic catheters. A urethral catheter is inserted into the bladder while a supra-pubic Foley catheter involves placing the catheter into the bladder through a small cut in the abdomen.

How to choose the right Indwelling Catheter?

Indwelling Catheter types are several and will depend on your individual needs. Factors that will decide your selection include gender, period of usage, material sensitivity. You also have choose from type, size, length, material and usage.

Types of Foley Catheters

The 2 way Foley catheters or double lumen Foley catheters (like Bardia Foley Catheter) come with two lumens, one to drain urine and the other to inflate or deflate the balloon. On the other hand, 3 way Foley catheters feature an extra lumen to provide continuous bladder irrigation or instill medications.

Size of the Indwelling Catheter

The common sizes of Foley  catheters are in the range of 10 FR to 28 FR. Your medical professional can best suggest you that which catheter size will work best for you.

Foley Urinary Catheter Length

Length of a Foley catheter differs in males, females and pediatrics. Men need longer tubing and this is usually between 40 and 45 cm. For female foley catheter the standard length is 25 cm.

Foley Catheter Material

Foley catheters are generally made from silicone rubber or latex natural/rubber. The latter is cheaper but usually avoided because the user can be prone to infections due to latex and it can also cause hypersensitive reactions. Then there are silicone-latex catheters which are essentially latex but with silicone coating. It lasts between one and two weeks. Catheters made exclusively of silicone are expensive but popular for Foley catheterization. They are safer and securer in comparison and last longer, for up to 6 to 8 weeks, but they are more rigid.

Period of Catheter Usage

Your catheter choice will also depend on your usage. Whether you need for the short term of up to two weeks, or long term for up to three months.
  • Short-Term Foley Catheters: Short-term Foley catheters are generally used during surgeries and the post-surgery period, to provide relief from short-term urinary retention, for administration of medication into the bladder or to monitor urine output. These may be made of PVC or latex or Teflon-coated latex.
  • Long-Term Foley Catheters: Long-term Foley catheters are used in cases where the patient is bed-ridden, has a chronic illness and unable to pass urine the normal way. Situations include severe urinary incontinence, bladder outlet obstruction and chronic urine retention because of a neurological disease or injury. These catheters are made of silicone, silicone-elastomer coated latex, hydrophilic-polymer coated latex, silver-alloy coated catheters and more.

Foley Catheter Tips

Foley Urinary catheters have different types of tips. Coude tip Foley catheters have a bent tip to allow for easy maneuvering through the urethra and into the bladder. An example is the Medtronic Covidien Dover catheter which is two-way and silicone with 30cc balloon capacity. Then there are round tip Foley catheters like the 2-way silicone Foley catheter from Bard, straight tip Foley catheters like Medline’s straight tip which is a three-way, silicone-elastomer coated, latex foley catheter. Also available are olive tip Foley catheters like the Bard Bardex lubricath, or funnel end Foley catheters like the four-wing tip Malecot catheter from Rusch.
The variety can be confusing and mind-boggling but based on your medical condition and the doctor’s recommendation it is easy to shortlist the options and then pick one that offers all the features and options you need.

Foley Catheter Care Instructions

  • Your genital region should be washed two times a day.
  • Clean the urinary catheter and the surrounding area where it was placed using water and soap.
  • After every bowel movement, clean your anal opening and catheter area.
  • In order not to pull or move the catheter, protect the catheter tube. This helps prevent bladder spasms and discomfort. Use medical tape or a strap to secure the catheter to your body.
  • Maintain a closed drainage system.
  • Indwelling catheter should always be connected to the drainage bag to form a closed system.
  • Unless you need to change the bag, do not detach any portion of the closed device.

What to do if problems develops in Foley Catheter?

  • No urine is draining into the bag: Check the tubing for kinks and straighten them out. To attach the catheter tube to your skin, check the tape or strap used. Make certain the tube is not blocked. Make sure that you do not sit on the tubing or lie on it. Make sure the urine bag is hanging below the level of your waist.
  • Urine leaks from or around the catheter, tube, or drainage bag: Search for accidental opening or splitting of the closed drainage system. With a new alcohol pad, clean the catheter and tubing ends and attach them again.

How to prevent an infection while using Foley Urinary Catheter?

  1. Wash your hands frequently. Wash before and after touching the catheter, tubing, or drainage bag using water and soap. When taking care of your catheter or disconnecting the drainage bag, wear clean disposable gloves. Wash your hands  before you cook or eat food.

  2. How to wash your hands

  3. Drink liquids as guided. Ask your healthcare provider which liquids are better for you and how much liquid to drink per day. Liquids will help drain the kidneys and bladder, to help prevent infection.

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